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Which Invasive Barnacle Are You?

Activity Summary
In this lab students are introduced to a situation where a researcher was studying an invasive barnacle species, Megabalanus coccopoma, or the Titan Acorn Barnacle.  This barnacle is thought to be distinctive for its hot pink color. However, while collecting specimens the researchers unknowingly collected another species of hot pink barnacle that is physically indistinguishable. Researchers only discovered that it was a new species when doing DNA analysis. Henceforth, we will call it the unknown species. Students will first use photographs to attempt to make predictions about what species they are looking at by comparing the physical characteristics to one known M. coccopoma specimen. They will then run the DNA on an agarose gel to confirm their predictions.

Grade Levels

Learning Objectives
1. Demonstrate skills in pipetting and setting up a gel electrophoresis experiment
2. Analyze the results of a gel to determine the species of invasive barnacle
3. Explain the connection between genetics and biodiversity

Lesson Materials (view or download)
Lesson Plans
Teacher prep video: Micropipetting
Teacher prep video: Preparing DNA samples
Teacher prep video: Pouring a DNA gel
Teacher prep video: Running a DNA gel

invasive species, DNA, biodiversity

Last updated: 5/22/2015